HANNIBAL – As steampunkers arrived in Hannibal for the Big River Steampunk Festival, local entertainers reported Mark Twain was interested in time travel.

HANNIBAL – As steampunkers arrived in Hannibal for the Big River Steampunk Festival, local entertainers reported Mark Twain was interested in time travel.

Mark Twain professional actor Richard Garey noted that Twain was a close friend of Nikola Tesla, a famous inventor and electrical engineer.

“Mark Twain was indirectly involved in steampunk ideas,” Garey said. “Tesla once looked at Twain and said, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could go back in time?'

This influenced Twain to write about time travel, Garey said. “He created time travel when he wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.”

The book featured King Arthur's reign in the Sixth Century.

Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist, who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply.

Garey was home in Hannibal for this year's Steampunk Festival, after performing on riverboats this time of year for the past eight years. He is performing his Mark Twain Himself shows in Hannibal at 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with reservations made by calling 573-231-0021.

Ken Marks, producer of the Steampunk Festival, also mentioned Mark Twain's interest in time travel.

“He was interested in researching those possibilities,” Marks said. “He was always curious about these things, the edge of possibility.”

Marks noted that among people meeting the public at the Steampunk Festival was Michael Schulkins of Silicon Valley, Calif., who wrote a time-traveling fiction trilogy, Mark Twain on the Moon.

Some of the premium events at this year's festival were so popular that tickets were sold out several days in advance. By Thursday, tickets were sold out for the Van Helsing cruise featuring the Ragged Blade Band on Sunday on the Mark Twain Riverboat. Also sold out was the Fairypunk Tea on Sunday at the Mark Twain Brewing Co.

Some steampunk events included contests for the public. Winners of the costume contests, hair contest, and other events will be announced later.

Java Jive offered a special opportunity this year, Marks said. A section of the building was reserved for old time games, where people could come in and play the games before deciding whether to buy them to take home.

Java Jive owner Katy Welch explained the vendor selling the games set up a booth outside the building where the steampunkers could buy the games after playing them inside.

Playing games at Java Jive is nothing new, she said. Board games are available year round, and some people bring their own games.

The Steampunk Festival “is always one of our biggest weekends of the year,” Welch said. “We are happy to see all the fun people in costume.”

She always serves a special menu for events, and this year she served lavender latte, rose latte and elderberry latte.

bdarr@courierpost.com